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Building Community with Drama
Joe Turner is Coming

BY Marni Rapoport

On February 9th and 10th, Stevenson College will be privileged to house a production of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone performed by the African American Theater Arts Troupe. The play, by August Wilson, deals with the African-American search for individuality, spirituality, and purpose at the turn of the century in America. At the same time, the African-American Theater Arts Troupe is achieving this very purpose with this and their other productions.

In a precedent-setting effort, this production will include actors from any parts of the community, and marks a major step in unifying the community with the Theatre Arts Troupe.

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone is set in an industrialized area of Pittsburgh in 1911 at a black urban boarding house. It carries the audience through the joys and sorrows of the house’s newly freed slaves and their search for their own identity. These people, hoping for a piece of the "American Pie," often depend on their spiritual side to instill hope in their lives. "God has always played a major role in the African American life, since the gospels sung in the cotton field, embedding in them a hope for the future," said director Don Williams.

The African-American Theater Arts Troupe, in it’s third year is giving residents and students of Santa Cruz what the Church did for the characters in Joe Turner: the troupe brings people from all the different areas together, in hope of creating a sense of community, identity and confidence. The troupe raises scholarship money for African-American students, strives to build unity and understanding in the community through it’s productions.

"Part of our mission", Don Williams said "is to create a large net of fellowship, and community, uplifting people and giving them a greater appreciation for other cultures."

Their goal of community is clear from their casting and performances. The cast of Joe Turner includes students from UCSC, Cabrillo College, and a local junior high school. It will also be performed at Louden Nelson Community Center February 18 and 19th , and Cabrillo College February 25th and 26th. Catch Joe Turner at any of the three locations, at 8pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $3 for student and $5 for general admission.

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